Cuomo personally appeals to senator who could flip Senate majority
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has personally appealed to a conservative Democratic state senator who caucuses with Republicans to reunite with the Democrats so the party can retake the majority.
“The governor asked me to consider being part of the family [the Democratic Party],” said Brooklyn Sen. Simcha Felder. “It was a soft sell. He knows me.”
Felder said he told Cuomo there was no use talking about him switching allegiance until after the April 24 special election for two Senate seats.
If Democrats win both seats, including a competitive race in Westchester, they would have a 32-31 numerical majority. But that’s only if Felder flips.
That makes Felder a kingmaker who would determine which party controls the chamber. “I have to have a compelling reason to leave [the Republicans],” he said, but added, “I would consider it.”
But if the GOP wins one of the seats, it would maintain the majority, at least through year’s end.
“I don’t want to serve in the minority,” Felder said.
Felder has used his leverage in the divided Senate to push issues he cares about.
He was criticized for holding up agreement on the $168 billion budget last month in a dispute over state regulation of yeshivas. He represents Borough Park and other south Brooklyn communities with a large Orthodox Jewish constituency.
The Democrats are in striking distance of winning back control of the Senate after eight rogue Democrats — the Independent Democratic Conference allied with the GOP — agreed to reunify with other Democrats in a deal brokered by Cuomo. That fragile marriage starts Monday.
The Republican-loving IDC, which has operated with Cuomo’s acquiescence during his two terms in office, has been a political headache for the governor.
Gubernatorial rival Cynthia Nixon and the Working Families Party — which just endorsed her on Saturday — have slammed Cuomo for his backing of the IDC and for dragging his heels in bringing the Republican-loving dissidents back into the Democratic fold.
But Felder is a solo agent who was not part of the IDC or the brokered unification.